MPhil in Statistics

In disciplines as diverse as biology, economics, actuarial studies, psychology, physics, archaeology, medicine and information technology, qualified statisticians play an important role in making proper sense of data.

Through the MPhil program in Statistics at the Research School of Finance, Actuarial Studies and Statistics (RSFAS), candidates will receive rigorous training in core statistical application and theory, enabling them to choose a specialisation from a wide variety of areas.

The program is focused on developing candidates for a career in government or industry, or as a pathway to further postgraduate studies. Career options include researcher in scientific, medical or health research organisations; researcher or analyst in government agencies, such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, or departments of Health, Agriculture, Education, Finance and Treasury; researcher or quantitative data analyst in the corporate sector, including the banking, finance and insurance, pharmaceutical, energy and mining sectors; and management and statistical consultant.

CRICOS #: 048350D

Duration: 1 to 2 years full time (2 to 4 years part time)

Before applying

Before you submit an application for entry to the program, you should:

  • ensure you meet the admission requirements outlined below
  • identify potential supervisors – that is, one or two statistics academics at ANU who conduct research in your area of interest.

You can find information on researchers and their research areas in the ANU researchers database and on the RSFAS Statistics faculty page.

While other ANU schools may recommend contacting potential supervisors before submitting an application, this is not required for entry into RSFAS’s MPhil programs. Instead, you only need to list the name(s) of potential supervisors in your online application form.

Potential supervisors cannot guarantee entry into the MPhil program. Admission will depend on the strength of your application relative to others in the pool.

After you’ve completed the steps above, you can proceed with an online application.

Application deadlines

The first semester of the ANU academic year starts in February, and the second semester starts in July. While all applications for first semester entry must be submitted before 31 October, international applicants wishing to be considered for an ANU scholarship should submit their applications before 31 August.

To be considered for a scholarship, your application must be accompanied by all the supporting documents listed below, including the referee reports. Request for referee reports are triggered and sent to your nominated referees at the time of submission of program application. It is thus important that you submit your application in advance (2-3 weeks) to allow time for your referees to provide their reports prior to the scholarship deadline.

If you’re currently completing an academic degree and haven’t yet received your final results and transcript, you should still submit all available documents before the deadline, and forward remaining results once you receive them. We won’t make a final decision on your application until we’ve received all the required documents.

Admission requirements

The admission requirements for the MPhil program in Statistics reflect the knowledge that applicants will need to undertake the coursework component of the degree, and the skills needed to undertake original research.

The minimum qualification requirement for admission to the MPhil program in Statistics is:

  1. a Bachelor degree with an overall grade of distinction or higher in statistics (or a closely related discipline) from an Australian university, or
  2. another qualification that the RSFAS HDR (higher degree by research) committee is satisfied is equivalent or superior to a degree mentioned in (a), or
  3. a combination of qualifications and professional experience that the RSFAS HDR committee is satisfied is equivalent or superior to a degree mentioned in (a).

Admission to the MPhil program in Statistics is competitive and we can only admit a limited number of applicants each year. Meeting the minimum entry requirements does not guarantee you a place in the program.

English language requirements

All applicants must satisfy the University’s English language admission requirements. An international applicant who is not a native English speaker may satisfy these requirements by submitting evidence of an IELTS overall score of at least 6.5, and with no component less than 6.0, or a paper-based TOEFL score of at least 570, with at least 4.5 in the essay component.

Application and supporting documentation

You must submit your application online via the ANU Application Manager.

In addition to the standard information required in the online application, you must submit the following supporting documents as part of your application:

  • a one-page statement of purpose outlining your motivation to undertake an MPhil in Statistics at ANU
  • a research proposal – see details below, as well as these guidelines on how to prepare a persuasive research proposal
  • if available, copies of written research work, e.g. honours or Master thesis, research projects or published works
  • official TOEFL or IELTS results (where applicable) to demonstrate that you satisfy the University’s English language requirements.

Research proposal

The online application requires you to submit a research proposal. The proposal should set out a research question and objectives, provide an introduction or background to your research idea, and explain why your research is important and the contribution it will make to the statistics discipline. As a guide, you should aim for 1,000 to 1,500 words, including a list of key references.

The RSFAS HDR committee uses the research proposal as an indicator to assess the quality and originality of your ideas, your skills in critical thinking, and how your research interests fit with the School’s current research focus and supervision capacity.

Offers of admission

The RSFAS HDR committee will review all complete applications submitted by the relevant deadline.

If your application is short-listed, you may be required to attend an interview (face to face or online).

We may send you an offer of admission if you satisfy the eligibility criteria and your area of interest matches those of RSFAS academics with supervisory capacity. However, since admission is competitive and supervisory capacity is limited, we won’t send any offers of admission until after the relevant application deadline, irrespective of the date when you submit your application.

Program structure

The MPhil program in Statistics consists of two components – coursework and research.

Candidates undertake the research component concurrently with the required coursework.

MPhil coursework component

The specific coursework requirements for the MPhil in Statistics will depend on the candidate’s background and will be determined through discussion with the HDR convenor before the candidate commences. The standard coursework requirement consists of the following compulsory courses:

The candidate will choose up to three electives in consultation with the HDR convenor.

MPhil research component

While attending courses, MPhil candidates undertake research and work towards completion of a thesis. It is important that candidates start developing their research topic ideas by consulting with their supervisor and other academic staff within RSFAS early in their candidature.

Research supervisory panel

When an MPhil candidate is admitted to the program, a supervisor is assigned. The supervisor has the responsibility of overseeing the candidate’s progress. Either in a candidate’s first year of study, or soon after completion of their coursework, a supervisory panel will also be chosen. The role of the supervisory panel is to assist, advise, and provide support and encouragement to the candidate for a timely and successful completion of the research thesis.

RSFAS statistics seminar program

The RSFAS statistics seminar program consists of regular seminars presented by national and international researchers. MPhil candidates are expected to attend and actively participate in the seminars throughout their candidature.

Research integrity training

Within three to six months of enrolment, all MPhil candidates must complete the Research Integrity Training and pass the exam. Completion of this course and exam is a compulsory milestone for all MPhil candidates.

Thesis proposal review

MPhil candidates are required to present a thesis proposal to the RSFAS faculty and submit a paper to their supervisory panel, typically towards the end of the first year of studies. The purpose of the thesis proposal review is to assess the originality, significance, adequacy and achievability of the candidate’s thesis plan.

The proposal includes a description of the research to be undertaken in the thesis, and a summary of the thesis structure and time plan.

Successful completion of the thesis proposal review is required to continue in the MPhil program.

Transfer to PhD program

Some candidates undertake the MPhil as a pathway to PhD studies. Under some circumstances, candidates may apply to transfer to the PhD program part way through the MPhil program. For information about pathways to PhD studies, contact the RSFAS HDR convenor.

Annual progress review

It is University policy that each candidate’s progress be reviewed periodically. In each year of their program, MPhil candidates are required to submit an annual plan and report as a basis for periodic progress review. This document provides details on work completed by the candidate since the previous review, current progress, and any problems that may impact their research. It also outlines the coursework and research the candidate intends to undertake in the following 12 months.

Oral presentation

In their final year, candidates are required to give a final oral presentation on their research, usually three months before submitting their thesis.

Read more about research candidate milestones.

Thesis submission and examination

The culmination of the MPhil in Statistics is a written thesis which, upon completion, is submitted for examination. The thesis is examined by experts in the relevant field.

For more information on the process, visit our page on submitting a thesis.


For information about scholarships available to HDR candidates, visit our page on scholarships and fees.